Roberto Clemente: ''Any time you have an opportunity to make a difference in this world and you don't, then you are wasting your time on Earth.''
Roberto Clemente was born in rural Puerto Rico as the youngest of seven children of. His father worked as a foreman on a sugarcane plantation, and his mother ran a grocery store for local workers. His family was poor, and Clemente took odd jobs to earn extra money for the family. He spent his little free time playing baseball on the sandlots of his hometown, showcasing natural talent and a deep love of the game.
In 1952, professional scouts spotted Clemente and offered him a contract for forty dollars a month. Clemente quickly garnered the attention of Major League teams, and within a couple of years, he was playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers’ minor league team in Montreal, Canada. Though his success took him far from home, Clemente always maintained a close attachment to the region, returning to play winter ball and bring food, supplies and sports equipment to needy families.
The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted Clemente, and he quickly became a dominant right fielder player in the league, helping lead the Pirates to win both the National League pennant and the World Series. Clemente starred in the big leagues for seventeen years, winning four National League batting championships, a league MVP award (1966) and a World Series MVP award (1971).
Tragically, Clemente's life ended on December 31, 1972 in a plane crash while en route to Nicaragua with relief supplies for earthquake victims. Always the humanitarian, Clemente was on the plane to make sure the clothing, food and medical supplies reached the people who needed them the most. He was only thirty-eight years old.
Clemente was the first Latin American to be selected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and the only current Hall of Famer for whom the mandatory five-year waiting period was waived. He was also posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal (1973) and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2002). Each year, Major League Baseball gives out the Roberto Clemente Award to the player who has achieved greatness both on the field and in the arena of humanitarian efforts.
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